Zimbabwe, South Africa both threaten Starlink importers and confiscate kits

Leonard Sengere Avatar

Here is how I see the situation – some people elected a few people from among them, stewards of some sort, to look after their interests. However, just like the family with a guard dog whose duty it is to safeguard the family’s assets, the dog will sometimes take it too far.

If you’ve ever owned a dog, you know that sometimes you have to wrestle the thing as it tries to bite your guests. You’re like, “It’s okay Danger, he’s not a threat,” but Danger still tries to rip your guest’s calf off.

I feel like the same is happening with the people of Zimbabwe and their government when it comes to Starlink. We’re like “It’s okay Govy, we want this guest,” but the govt is is still trying to rip Starlink’s calves off.

“It’s not allowed to sell or use Starlink in Zimbabwe and police will be mounting raids and arrests soon,” said a Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) official. That’s Govy barking up a storm.

Although the official said “soon” the raids are apparently already underway. We have heard a few reports of Starlink kits being confiscated.

If you asked the government, this is all for our good. They are protecting us from a threat, they are ensuring Zimbabwe is not fleeced by Elon Musk.

Stickler for the laws

After all, Starlink has not complied with the country’s laws and so cannot be allowed to operate and jeopardise the operations of internet service providers that paid their millions to the government and allow for legal intercepts etc. We shall look into this fully sometime soon.

We kind of understand all that but what’s painfully in our conscious minds is that we are paying arms and legs for internet access and Starlink could help lower prices for some. It’s as simple as that and so we’re not trying to hear all this “They gotta play by our rules” talk.

The same story down south

In South Africa, Elon Musk’s birth country, Starlink is yet to be licensed. Starlink has high hopes it will be operational in the country soon but many wonder if that’s misplaced confidence.

The South African govy is barking up a storm about how Starlink has to play by their rules. Exactly like how the Zim govy is jawing.

Many believe the major roadblock in South Africa is the need for Starlink to give up 30% shareholding of their local operations to Black Economic Empowerment groups. ICASA, their regulator confirmed that that indeed is the case.

My South African friends, we feel for you. We have had many qualms with our govt about its policies, including the ones keeping Starlink from officially operating here.

However, we thank God that we no longer require that foreign companies give up shareholding to locals. That had a devastating negative impact on our ability to attract investment.

I hope your government understands this soon. Otherwise, you will wake up to find that your northern neighbor has become a better investment destination, just like what happened to us.

Rebellious populace

Anyway, just like in Zimbabwe, the South Africans are illegally importing Starlink kits. The service is just that compelling for many that they are willing to go down this route. Of course, the govts won’t have this.

Potraz in Zimbabwe is following in ICASA’s footsteps. ICASA threatened those that were (are) importing Starlink kits.

Now in South Africa, some of these importers were registered ISPs and they were threatened with loss of broadband access, confiscation of equipment and possible criminal charges. Sound familiar?

Check out this quote from a small business owner from Inyoni Village outside the South African city of Nelspruit who was importing Starlink kits,

I was warned…that telecoms inspectors will visit all provincial businesses that provide Starlink services without registration. Something about fines and charges was mentioned in the call for anyone violating telecom laws

For the people or the party?

If you asked, I still think most people have no idea what Starlink is but of the few that know about it, the vast majority supports the service coming to Zimbabwe. Some believe it will flip the internet service provision subsector on its head but some think it will only be a good-to-have option.

That doesn’t matter because Starlink is not licensed to operate in Zimbabwe.

The only solid bit of information we have about the service coming to Zimbabwe comes from Dandemutande (an ISP) announcing that they will be partnering to bring the service this year. They have been coy with details of this partnership though.

We are left asking, are the Zimbabwean and South African governments doing this for the people they represent?

In both countries, ordinary people believe Starlink is an affordable and reliable alternative. Now, if the South Africans are claiming that, imagine how much more true it is in Zimbabwe.

I heard some South Africans say their internet service providers are too expensive and unreliable due to record power blackouts and inadequacy of infrastructure in rural areas. Tell me that doesn’t sound like every single Zimbabwean.

So, the families are saying give us Starlink but the dogs are saying that particular guest should not be welcome. Well, in these cases, the dogs are massive and aggressive Pitbulls and the families have to sneak the guest in through the back as the dog stands guard at the gate.

Are we asking for too much?

Are we asking the governments to make exceptions and allow Starlink to operate? If so, are we sure we are prepared to allow our govts to pick and choose when to set aside the law of the land?

If you reprimand your dog every time it scares what it thinks is an intruder off, it’s only a matter of time before it allows every Tom just waltz in.

You could argue that they do this already so at the very least we get something we want this time around. You could also argue that the goal of improving connectivity in our countries necessitates this favouritism.

These kinds of conversations are happening both here and in South Africa. We shall see where the chips fall in due time, I guess.

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26 comments

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  1. 3man

    it’s a matter of time, technolgy will force those hell bent on depriving others from participating. the old PTC now Telone landlines glory faded away like mist and now noone gives a hoot.

    1. Clifford Dupont

      The Hallmark of any dictatorship is to strike fear into the people. Since 1980 there has been reign of terror which caused Zimbabweans to be docile and foolishly pretent to be happy like North Koreans who claphands when their president abuse them.

  2. Mashabela

    One thing I know for sure is that the people of Zimbabwe will continue to buy and use these items, just like the Mushika shikas, because our ISP prices are way too expensive, imagine paying $100 for 250GB on 12Mbps, against $40 for over 100Mbps unlimited, no electricity interruptions, and can be use anywhere, folks think about it. Liquid equipment costs $345, I would rather pay $10 to the police every month it’s still worth it kkkkkkk

  3. Always Off Topic

    Its only a matter of time when direct to cell satellite services will become a thing. The MNO’s of the future will be providing services across the globe. Starlink will probably be the first, but there will be others coming online. Unless governments invest in infrastructure that blocks satellite signals, the consumers will have the last laugh. Traditional MNO’s could be staring at a dead end if they fall asleep at the wheel.

  4. Death by a thousand Cut$

    It’s like God is talking to Elon 😂 There is a backpack friendly dish coming this year. If, for the purposes of having a nice ornament for your yard or roof, you need a more discreet or portable installation, hold on a little longer! Failing that, the mountains and rivers are still open, for extended sightseeing hikes of course!😉

    Anyway, I don’t think we are asking too much. We are behind on so many metrics, this would be an easy, near zero effort layup on connectivity, directly and indirectly.

  5. Starlink Addict

    We will always spare $10 for the police every month. 🤣🤣🤣

  6. Munhu Mutema

    In the 80s a few white guys who owned satellite TVs challenge PTC and Mugabe for threatening to dismantle their satellite dishes and won their case in the high court that is why every house has a satellite dish today.
    But Africans are not united we can’t take on the state when it makes wrong decisions on our behalf. We wait for someone from Mars to came to our aid.

    For example the current budget is so burdensome but we still act as if things are ok.

    1. The Last Don

      Zimbabweans will even go to the police to sellout on who has StarLink. That’s why we are hated by South Africans at their workplaces

  7. The Last Don

    Are they going for Neville first or he will be exempted from prosecution like the Gold Mafia Queen? 🤔 🤔

  8. D.K.

    We have become accustomed to talking about government as if we are not part of it. We have surrendered our power to the few on top who do what pleases them with it. Both countries’ people have to keep reminding themselves that what the majority of people want is what should be done.
    I am sure the South Africans will be in the courts or lobbying their new parliament after their elections are done, and what the majority of South Africans want will be adopted.
    Africa is the only place where its innovative and successful people are not wanted or celebrated in their countries of birth. Maybe for fear that they will become more popular and more famous than the chiefs and political leaders.

    1. Munhu Mutema

      You are right, look what happened to Strive. They hounded him out of the country. They wanted bribes from him and him maybe being stingy or morale upright he flee. They were knocking on his door almost daily

      1. Econet CEO

        Strive didn’t flee you got a better job in Microsoft that’s the reason he left and because he would be closer to Bill Gates and learn something’s from him and strengthen econet

  9. CyberGhost

    Nice article, really enjoyed every bit of it,that part about the family dog is completely rib cracking 🤣🤣🤣

  10. SWC

    Should we not expect people working in governments to be more intelligent than dogs. I love this analogy. Just shows that government employees are not expected or trained to think logically, but just to do as instructed our “leaders”. So how can we expect a different outcome if they are just doing wat is expected from them?

    1. JC

      So no more Starlink on ZBC OB van i guesse. 😂😂😂😂

      1. FOX

        HAHAHAHAHAHAH

  11. Munhu Mutema

    What I know is that South Africans, unlike Zimbabweans will not take that nonsense lying down as they will do everything to assert their rights.They will definitely take court action.

  12. Indomitable Lion

    Anoda full kit ye starlink
    Call or App 0774138268

    1. Burner Line?

      Either this is a honeypot or you are brave😂 How much?

      1. Indomitable Lion

        $1200

        Pane police ndipo pane cash 💰

  13. Glory days

    It’s all about TAXES and CONTROL.
    No matter what excuses the government may give about banning starlink it’s all just the government wanting to control Internet access in the country. After all our Government has a record of shutting down the Internet on a whim and Starlink would deny them that ability.

    Government claims well over 50%(or more?) of the country’s Internet providers operating profits in various taxes. Resulting in poor network maintenance and higher data prices as those taxes are partially passed on to consumers. Starlink pays no taxes to the Zimbabwean government whilst providing a cheaper higher quality of service overall.
    Since the golden goose that the govt is taking eggs from whilst sucking on its blood is too weak to compete against Starlink, the govt has to step in by banning Starlink from operating in Zimbabwe.
    Not doing so will result in a situation where the amount received by government drops drastically and the Zimbabwean government is broke! How broke?
    They’re now taxing people for their inability to see!
    That’s how broke they’re!

    Ps “….taxes are partially passed on on to consumers.”
    I meant what I said. Please remember that POTRAZ sets the limit on the money that internet providers can charge. Also don’t forget that the value of the local currency falls monthly whilst Potraz reviews bi annually.
    Now factor in the that as private businesses they need to show a profit to justify their existence and some of those companies are headed by CEO’s whose renumeration is based on the companies performance.
    In the end you end with this goulash where the quality of service provision is dropping while profits seem to be climbing. It’s all at the cost of service maintenance and expansion which are reduced to the minimum.

  14. Anonymous

    We have people, vene vayo, who claim to know everything. They have even Professors and other so called learned stuff. This is the problem of Africa not just Zimbabwe?

  15. AK From THE TECHHUB SHOW PODCAST

    Technology is enjoyable when it’s safely and legally accessed. I hope that whatever is stopping Star link to be allowed to operate in Zim will be fixed.

  16. Shh

    Just quietly do your thing. You don’t have to broadcast on FB and IG that this or that aspect of life got a boost this way or that way.

    Avoid rousing hatred and jealousy from relatives and neighbours

    Enjoy!

  17. Mupfanha wepaJecha

    so in light of the new events, it does make sense that Chris Mutsvangwa’s child was the one allowed to distribute Starlink products and all of a sudden twas illegal to even touch it. Now that he’s dad was fired it makes a lot of sense…

  18. Jackson

    Fear of losing control of the Citizens and loss of potential easy income is the reason why Starlink will NOT be legalised in Zim.

    Mandla kept them awake. Now imagine what Starlink will do with ALL of Zimbabwe now technologically accessible and connected with such high speeds! With this in mind the population MUST dig in and oppressors will s*** their pants!

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